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  • Iraqi federal policemen receive military instructions by Spanish military trainers during a course by NATO forces, at Basmaya military base, 65km southern Baghdad, Iraq, 12 March 2018.

    Iraqi federal policemen receive military instructions by Spanish military trainers during a course by NATO forces, at Basmaya military base, 65km southern Baghdad, Iraq, 12 March 2018. | Photo: EFE

Published 13 February 2020
Opinion

The project could involve hundreds of soldiers, in addition to the 500 or more already deployed.

Without the approval of the Iraqi authorities, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will resume its training operations in the Middle Eastern nation after they were suspended more than a month ago, following the U.S. assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.

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The operations will be resumed "as soon as possible," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said after a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday.

Although it is not known how many troops will be sent to reinforce the efforts of the NATO training, which was established in Baghdad in October 2018, NATO officials estimate that the movement could involve "a couple of hundred" soldiers, which would add to the 500 or more that NATO already has deployed in the territory.

During his statements, Stoltenberg also did not offer details about the status of the talks with the Iraqi government. But with the growing resentment in the country over foreign meddling, unleashed after the attack on Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad airport, the authorities do not approve the NATO project.

After the repeated violations of the "sovereignty and territorial integrity" of their country, the Iraqis rejected the presence of foreign troops in their country. Recently, the Iraqi parliament voted to expel U.S. troops from the territory.

"NATO fully respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq," Stoltenberg said. "Everything we do will be in close consultation and coordination with the Iraqi government."

However, the U.S., the driving force behind NATO, certainly did not participate "in close coordination" with Iraq when it ordered the drone attack that killed Soleimani, in an operation carried out behind the back of the Baghdad government.

Expanding NATO's mission would allow Washington to reduce its military "footprint" in Iraq and redeploy those troops elsewhere, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said ahead of Wednesday's meeting in Brussels. However, Washington's commitment to a reduction remains unreliable.

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